Wednesday, October 2, 2013

ADHD Awareness Month - October 2013

According to the good folks at ADDitude Magazine, it's ADHD Awareness Month.

Yes, that's a thing.

In fact, there is even a website called Global ADHD Awareness Month - 2013.  According to the photo on this website, I am a poster child for this month-long celebration:

No, that isn't actually me, but this lady is definitely my doppleganger.  Spooky.

ADHD Awareness Month actually is a really good thing.

Sure, it's no match for its counterpart, Breast Cancer Awareness Month - also October - but as part of its campaign for ADHD Awareness Month, ADDitude is promoting ADHD myth-busting.  As a fan of Discovery Channel's MythBusters, I can safely assure you that ADHD myth-busting will not include any explosives.

Sorry.

But I would like to pick up the ADHD myth-busting torch and tell you a few things about my ADD (no hyperactivity as far as I can tell, unless drinking too much coffee and staring into space is considered hyperactive, in which case, yes, I'm hyperactive).

What do you think of when you picture someone, especially a child, with ADD or ADHD?

I can think of several of my classroom peers from middle and high school that fit the stereotype: fidgety, loud, boundary issues, constant yammering and interrupting, and generally a nuisance.  When I tell people that I was diagnosed, most folks are surprised.  Then a curious thing occurs: people start emailing and texting me with suspicions that they - or their child or partner - might have ADD.

I discovered my ADD through my husband.  If you're new to the blog then here's a big piece of my life you should know: my husband, a successful college administrator who has 2 master's degrees and a PhD has wicked ADD.  One night we were chatting on the couch after the kids went to bed and he turned to me and wondered, "You know, you might have what I have."

Considering I don't present like my husband, who is pretty classic ADHD, this was fascinating and a real possible answer to some of my nagging frustrations: poor sleep habits since age 12, need of background white noise or complete silence to concentrate, hyperfocus on details without seeing the big picture, forgetfulness, trouble with punctuality, misplacing items in the house, clutter on every flat surface, and trouble completing projects.

I scheduled a diagnostic assessment and guess what?  I passed with flying colors!!

But here's the thing: I didn't realize I struggled with ADD until my husband said something to me at age 42.  I had been coping and self-medicating with caffeine for about oh, my entire adult life.

So let me do some myth-busting using my life as an example.

Myth: People with ADD are lazy.
Truth:  I have held down many jobs and have been highly recommended by colleagues.

Myth:  People with ADD are not smart.
Truth:  I am working on my second graduate degree and have always been top in my class.

I want to bitch slap the person who created this.

Myth:  ADD and ADHD are just excuses for bad behavior.
Truth:  ADD and ADHD are bona fide medical disorders recognized by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Education.  ADHD is listed in the American Psychiatric Society's DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

If you suspect that you might have some of the symptoms that I described, don't feel ashamed and don't put off talking to your doctor or seeking an assessment.  Although I don't take medication, just being aware of my limitations has helped me feel less frustrated with myself and to employ strategies and use tools to help me be productive and successful.

Check out the ADDitude Printables on ADHD/ADD for information or go to the Global ADHD Awareness Month - 2013 website.  Both websites offer great fact sheets, self-assessments, and forums in which you can ask questions or interact with physicians, psychologists, and regular folk who might look a lot like you.

14 comments:

  1. I'm so glad I know all those things are a myth! Myth, I tell ya. In fact, some of the smartest peeps I know have some form of ADD, or so they've been told.

    When I worked at the college, Oct was disability awareness month and I got to highlight all kinds of brilliant, creative and wildly successful folks with physical, psychiatric and learning disabilities. And there are a lot of shining examples! ROCK THAT!

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  2. You and I are v much alike, based on your "symptoms" in this article. I was dx at age 32 and I was completely taken aback. I suppose it's bc I had that image in my head of what I *thought* ADD was supposed to look like... I'm not hyperactive, have always done v well in school, at work, etc; however, I am the most unorganized, frazzled mom. My poor kids and husband. I never have my stuff together, and I am always losing things, plus I'm late almost all the time. And let's don't event get started on clutter.

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    1. Hi Brandy,
      Sometimes I think there is such a thing as parenthood-induced ADD. I was never great at time management and clutter control, but now I'm in charge of two other balls of chaos! Flat surfaces hate me.

      Thanks for commenting. Please consider submitting to my guest post series, My ADD Rocks! Sure there are plenty of challenging aspects to ADD, but there are many wonderful attributes, too. I want to highlight them. If you're interested, just email me a short piece no more than 1,500 words.

      Take care,
      Amy

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  3. Thanks for your post. I have an ADHD son whom I think is absolutely brilliant. He does really well in his schoolwork, despite getting his work done a bit slowly. He really struggles socially, but I am hoping that comes better with time.

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    1. Thanks, Amy.
      I'm pretty sure both of my kids have ADD in one form or another, but until it starts interfering with their school work or friendships, I'm not getting either of them tested.

      I'm so sorry your son struggles socially. I get it. My husband and I both tend to over-share or impulsively interrupt. It does get better with time when you're aware of how you interact with others.

      I constantly tell my kids to be aware of who is around them, both physically and emotionally. They are good with the emotional side of things (my daughter is better), but physically not so much!

      Take care. Check back for my guest post series: My ADD Rocks!

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  4. That is exactly how I found out that I have ADHD was by my husband. I guess the people who know you best, like our husbands, would see the symptoms more than anyone. One night we were talking about it and I outright asked him if he thought I had a form of ADD/ADHD and his response was "ya think!" lol. Several of my nieces and nephews have it and I'm pretty sure my Dad does too but he's never been tested.

    Anyways, after talking to my family physician who's seen me for almost 10 years and knows me very well, even he agreed that I definitely have ADHD. It opened a whole new world for me. Here I struggled through out my whole life with school, jobs, and personal relationships, never knowing what was going on. My symptoms definitely mirror yours. I always thought I was just screwed up.

    When I told some of my family and friends, I would get the look like I'm not what they'd expect someone with ADHD to look like or be like. They automatically assume that someone cannot be hyper if they're overweight lol.

    Thank you so much for your article. :)

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    1. Hi Carrie,
      There are so many misperceptions about ADHD, aren't there? I worked as a clinician at a literacy organization and several of my students were ADD/ADHD. That's when Ritalin really hit the market hard. I had serious misgivings about medication at the time - still do to some extent, but that's another post - but was amazed that the kids with ADD and ADHD were so smart and perceptive. I had bought into the stereotype. So, it's funny that 15 years later, I figured out why I was always late to that job!

      I'm glad you have support - your husband and your physician.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Amy

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  5. Love. As a former teacher who has dealt with many ADD/ADHD-diagnosed teenagers, it was great to read this! ADD is so misunderstood because I think so many people are incorrectly diagnosed (people who DO have it are NOT diagnosed and people who DON'T have it ARE), and it leaves the rest of us believing so many myths about the disease--which you so eloquently debunked in your ADD Mythbusters. Thanks for sharing so openly about your struggles and your journey to overcome them!

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    1. Aw, love back atcha, Liz.

      I still have trouble calling it a disease. It feels more like faulty wiring, or maybe to put it more positively, creative wiring or nontraditional wiring. Or round peg in square hole wiring.

      On another note, your posts are making me pee myself. Thanks.

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  6. Amy,

    Thank you so much for sharing your insight. As the ADD mother of an ADD child (impulsive/inattentive; no hyperactivity), it is so great to see stories and lessons and myth-breaking humor! Our home is full of chaos and disaster... I have not a lick of organization! In fact, as often as my own mother was on me to get my stuff together and keep my room clean, I have to say I've only ever succeeded in maintaining a clean and organized room, home, car or really any aspect of my life for about 3 months. Chaos erupts because we also have our ADHD daddy in the household! But we have joy, laughter, and love throughout the chaos!

    My daughter also deals with ODD, and SPD and possible Autism Spectrum, along with a HUGE IQ that revels my own! This makes for chaos and confusion and tempers! But every night, as we work our way to bedtime and she asks for water or a book or another stuffed animal, or begs for one more PowerPuff Girls episode- to no avail, I might add- she giggles loudly at how silly mommy is ("Mommy, I thought we were supposed to be going to bed, not chasing the kitty from my room."), wraps her arms around me, and gives me the sweetest kisses of my life. I smile as I shut her bedroom door to yells of "I LOVE YOU! NINI!" knowing that only moments later she'll be back in the living room asking for a water or a hug and I won't deny her.

    So thank you for sharing your journey. It is incredible to know I am not alone. :)

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    1. Hi Amy,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. You are so not alone!! My heart swells knowing there are other ADD/ADHD families out there bursting with love. Please consider sharing this story or another one from your experiences on my new blog guest post series: My ADD Rocks! Just email me (button at the top of the page) a flash essay or memoir (1,500 words max.).
      Take good care of that loving family,
      Amy

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  7. PLEASE SEND TO MY EMAIL AS MUCH INFO AS POSSIBLE. JUST GOT THE DIAGNOSIS FOR MY SON AT 6, AND I AM CLUELESS. PLEASE HELP ME PULLING MY HAIR OUT. EMAIL IS ladorsawillis@yahoo.com

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Comments for me? Thanks a bunch!